Boston Red Sox: Yamaico Navarro

Rapid Reaction: Jays 9, Sox 7

July, 4, 2011
BOSTON -- With the interleague schedule a thing of the past for the 2011 season, the Boston Red Sox returned home to Fenway Park on the Fourth of July to begin a seven-game homestand leading in to the All-Star break.

After posting a 10-8 record against National League teams this summer, the Red Sox entered the final week before the break with a loss as the Toronto Blue Jays posted a 9-7 victory Monday afternoon.

Red Sox starter John Lackey dug too big of a hole early, allowing seven runs on nine hits in his shortest outing (2 1/3 innings) of the season, and Boston could not recover.

Trailing 7-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Red Sox began to chip away with four runs. Boston added three more in the bottom of the eighth to cut Toronto’s lead to 9-7.

The rally in the eighth began with Yamaico Navarro leading off with a single to left. Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz snapped an 0-for-23 slump with an opposite-field ground-rule double to put runners on second and third.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia provided a two-run triple, then scored on a J.D. Drew sacrifice fly, but that’s as close as the Sox would come.

LACKLUSTER: Lackey continued his Jekyll and Hyde performances this season with another subpar outing. The veteran right-hander allowed seven runs on nine hits with no walks and two strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings. It’s the fourth time in just 13 starts this season that he’s allowed seven or more runs. Lackey became the first Sox pitcher since Derek Lowe in 2004 to surrender seven or more runs four times in a season before the Fourth of July.

WHEELER DEALER: After Lackey’s dreadful outing, reliever Dan Wheeler was summoned from the bullpen in an attempt to salvage the game. The right-hander was perfect during his 2 2/3 innings of work, retiring all eight batters he faced.

DRILLED: Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning and was removed from the game. Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow drilled Youkilis in the back, just below his neck on his right side. He dropped to the ground and remained on his knees for a moment while team trainer Greg Barajas and manager Terry Francona tended to him. Youkilis walked off the field on his own and was replaced by Navarro. It was the ninth time this season Youkilis has been hit by a pitch.

WEB GEM: Navarro remained in the game at third base and turned in the defensive play of the game in the seventh. The Jays’ Jose Bautista turned on an Alfredo Aceves offering and hit a chopper down the third-base line. Navarro, ranging back and to his right, snared the ball on the outfield grass and made a quick and accurate throw across the diamond for the second out of the inning. However, two batters later, Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion hit a would-be inning-ending grounder to Navarro, but the ball went through his legs, allowing the Jays’ Adam Lind to score from first base for an 8-4 Toronto lead.

TRIPLE THREAT: Red Sox leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury is having an All-Star season. He’s hitting above .300, has 9 home runs, 42 RBIs and 27 stolen bases. The one thing the speedster was lacking was a triple. He finally collected one with a two-out, two-run three-bagger off Morrow in the bottom of the fifth. Ellsbury ended the day with four hits, two RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base.

UP NEXT: Game 2 of this three-game set against the Blue Jays will feature Jon Lester (10-4, 3.43 ERA) vs. the Jays’ Brett Cecil (1-3, 7.24) Tuesday night (7:10) at Fenway Park.

Sox lean on kids against Rays

September, 6, 2010
BOSTON -- The Red Sox will have five players in their starting lineup Monday who weren’t here when the season began when they play the Tampa Bay Rays, 25 games from the finish line of a season destined to end on the first Sunday of October.

First baseman Lars Anderson was called up from Pawtucket and will play in place of Mike Lowell, who has a fractured rib in addition to his bad hip and went just 1-for-9 over the weekend against the White Sox. Rookie Yamaico Navarro will make his second start in place of shortstop Marco Scutaro, who has started 130 games at short but was limited to a pinch-hitting appearance Sunday and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his inflamed rotator cuff Tuesday. Navarro has just two hits in his first 15 big-league at-bats.

Jed Lowrie will start at second base, and two rookies, Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish, will be in the outfield. Nava is leading off, even though he hasn’t had a two-hit game since July 10, also the last time he had an extra-base hit. In 20 games since then (14 starts), Nava is batting .146 (7-for-48), which is also his slugging percentage over that time. His on-base percentage is .268.

Kalish’s last two-hit game came in Texas on Aug. 14. In 18 games since, he is batting .149 (7-for-47).

The Sox activated Josh Reddick on Monday, but did not have him in the starting lineup. Reddick was batting .196 on June 14, but finished the Triple-A season with a .266 average by batting .319 (82-for-257) the rest of the way. Reddick played Monday for Pawtucket and had a two-run home run and double before being pulled in the sixth inning. He’d also had a torrid 12-game hitting streak in which he batted .436 with six home runs and three doubles before going hitless in two games over the weekend.

Still, when asked if the Sox had considered bringing up Reddick sooner with Nava struggling, Red Sox manager Terry Francona made light of the question, saying, “I don’t know how he could get here any faster without a speeding ticket.’’

Jason Varitek also was activated Monday night but was not expected to play after serving as DH for the PawSox Monday afternoon, singling in three at-bats.

Pitcher Michael Bowden will be activated in time for Tuesday night’s game. The additions of Anderson, Varitek and Reddick give the Sox 32 players for Monday night’s game, with Bowden making it 33 on Tuesday night. The Rays have 31 players on their roster, so the Sox could hope to win by outnumbering them.

Anderson, who turns 23 on Sept. 25, was listed as the team’s best prospect by Baseball America entering the 2009 season, after combining for a .317 average with 18 home runs in a 2008 season split between Class A Lancaster and Double-A Portland. But he struggled in Portland last year, batting .233 with nine home runs, and this spring did not get a hit in 18 spring-training at-bats with the Red Sox.

He began the season by returning to Portland, but after batting .355 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 17 games, was promoted to Pawtucket. For two months he struggled, batting just .218 (41-for-188) with five home runs, but hit .300 or better in both July and August, finishing at .262 with 10 home runs and 53 RBIs. In his last 30 games for the PawSox, he hit .330 with 3 homers, 8 doubles and 16 RBIs.

Francona said he was unsure of how much Anderson will play the rest of the way, but he’s likely to play enough for the Sox to make an evaluation going into 2011, as well as give other clubs a chance to contemplate him as a potential trading piece.

“He earned the chance to be here,’’ Francona said.

* Francona said that while the plan is for Clay Buchholz to start on three days’ rest Wednesday, that plan is subject to change. Translation: If the Sox lose one or both of the first two games of the series, expect a switch, perhaps to Tim Wakefield.

* Varitek was the 15th Red Sox player to rehab in Pawtucket this season, a club record. Here are the 15: Josh Beckett, Boof Bonser, Buchholz, Mike Cameron, Jacoby Ellsbury (twice), Jeremy Hermida, Lowrie, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Lowell, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Cash, Hideki Okajima, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Eric Patterson, and Varitek.

Quick hits: Rays 5, Sox 3

August, 30, 2010
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- After the Boston Red Sox dropped two of three games to the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend at Tropicana Field, the notion of whether their postseason chances are still intact was on the mind of many.

But not the Red Sox players.

The Rays posted a 5-3 victory here Sunday night to take the series and leave Boston 6 games behind Tampa and New York with 31 games remaining in the regular season. These teams face each other three more times in September at Fenway Park, and the Sox also have six games remaining against the Yankees, who share the AL East lead with the Rays.

“It’s not over yet,” said Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez. “We’ll keep playing hard and see what happens.”

Following Sunday’s loss, the Red Sox packed their bags and traveled to Baltimore, where they’ll face the Orioles in a three-game set, beginning Tuesday at Camden Yards.

Red Sox starter John Lackey worked 6 1/3 innings against the Rays and allowed five runs on nine hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. The right-hander surrendered a pair of home runs, to Carlos Pena (solo shot in the fourth) and Carl Crawford (two-run blast in the sixth with Boston ahead 3-1).

“[Lackey] did a lot of good things, but when he made the mistakes he really paid for them,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

Lackey cruised through the first five innings, but Tampa touched him for three runs in the sixth and added another in the seventh.

“I’m still trying to figure it out,” Lackey said. “I felt way too good to give up five runs.”

Lackey said after the game that he thought it was the best he’s thrown the ball in years.

“Tonight I had as good of stuff as I’ve had in a long time,” he said.

But he only has a loss to show for it, dropping his record to 12-8.

“He threw the ball well,” said Martinez. “Crawford and Pena got two pitches that we were trying to go away, but [the pitches] came back over the middle and they both put a good swing on it.”

Despite the loss and the missed opportunities this weekend, Lackey believes the Sox can remain in contention over the final five weeks of the season.

“I’m not a math whiz, but I think it’s doable,” Lackey said.

Big game, James: Rays starter James Shields earned the victory to become the club’s all-time leader in wins (56) and games started (145), surpassing Scott Kazmir in both categories.

“It means a lot,” Shields said. “This organization has given me the opportunity to be able to pitch as long as I have here and hopefully I get a ton more. It definitely means a lot, but my focus right now is to go to the playoffs and win a World Series.”

The right-hander worked 6 2/3 innings Sunday and allowed three runs on seven hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.

CC's in fine company: Crawford’s homer in the sixth inning was the 100th of his career, allowing the Rays left fielder to become the eighth player since 1900 to reach 100 homers, 100 triples and 400 stolen bases. He joins Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Lou Brock, Frankie Frisch, Kenny Lofton, Paul Molitor and Tim Raines.

“Feels good,” Crawford said of his achievement. “I’m proud to be in elite company. It makes me want to see how far I can go.”

Crawford finished the night 2-for-4 and now has a career .467 average against Lackey.

Stopped cold: Martinez is not afraid to block the plate and he showed that again on Sunday when Pena attempted to score from second on a base hit to center field. Red Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald made a strong throw home, where Martinez was waiting for the one-hopper as Pena slid in and spiked Boston’s catcher. Pena was out and Martinez was in pain. After a few minutes, he was able to shake it off and remained in the game. He said everything was fine afterward.

May I assist you? McDonald now has eight outfield assists this season. He notched his seventh as a center fielder in gunning down Pena and becomes the first Red Sox center fielder to reach that mark since Coco Crisp in 2007.

A first for Navarro: Red Sox rookie infielder Yamaico Navarro recorded his first career RBI, a tying single in the fifth inning off Shields. “We played him because we thought he could help us win,” Francona said.

Navarro notches first big league hit

August, 21, 2010
BOSTON -- If anything positive came out of the Boston Red Sox’s horrific 16-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night at Fenway Park was the fact a rookie notched his first big league hit.

Earlier Friday, the Red Sox called up infielder Yamaico Navarro from Triple-A Pawtucket after placing Dustin Pedroia back on the disabled list. With the game completely out of reach, Boston manager Terry Francona decided to insert Navarro as a pinch-hitter for Marco Scutaro in the bottom of the fifth inning. Navarro lined a shot to left field off Blue Jays’ starter Brett Cecil for his first hit.

“Certainly it would have been better under different circumstances, but you still try not to lose sight of the fact the kid’s playing his first major league game,” said Francona. “I’m sure he had a lot of butterflies. I thought he swung the bat pretty well.”

Navarro selected to Red Sox roster

August, 20, 2010
BOSTON -- With Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia back on the disabled list, infielder Yamaico Navarro has been called up from Triple-A Pawtucket.

Navarro, 22, combined to hit .275 with 23 doubles, 3 triples and 11 home runs in 104 games between Double-A Portland and Pawtucket this season. This is his first stint at the major league level.

“We don’t want to put Navarro in a [bad] position, he’s a young kid who’s coming quick. We want to help him, not hurt him,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

The utility infielder has played 77 games at shortstop, 24 at third base and two at second base between the two stops. He was signed by Boston as an international free agent on Sept. 23, 2005. He’s hit .281 with 89 doubles, 17 triples, 36 homers and 242 RBI in 411 minor league games in the Red Sox system.

“I’m happy to be here and help the team win,” he said through an interpreter.